Spring notes: Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich relishes breaking up scuffles


– Thursday’s practice featured a fight that started, as usual, when a few receivers and defensive backs got in each other’s faces. The main culprits: Jalen Ortiz and Tyler Scott on offense, and Ishmael Adams and Tahaan Goodman on defense.

Head coach Jim Mora stopped practice to admonish the team as a whole. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich talked a bit about managing player emotions, but actually sort of enjoyed jumping in and pulling players apart.

“It brings me back to my playing days,” he said. “I kind of like it. Maybe too much. The potential of someone hitting me … it was awesome.”

– Ulbrich also said that the experiment of putting Zach Whitley at outside linebacker is over. The four-star early enrollee looks far more comfortable inside, where he has returned since missing Monday’s practice due to a bruise.

“It was a thing where, we thought he could maybe compete outside and that might be the best situation for our defense,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true anymore.” Continue reading

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VIDEO: Receiver Mossi Johnson talks about his breakout spring camp


Mossi Johnson didn’t enter UCLA with much hype — not after grayshirting last season to rehab torn knee ligaments. But despite a heavy brace on his left leg, the former three-star recruit has turned himself into a capable slot receiver, and one of quarterback Brett Hundley’s new favorite targets.

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Spring notes: UCLA offensive line working through numerous injuries


UCLA’s offensive line continues to get dinged up.

Graduate transfer Malcolm Bunche left Wednesday’s morning practice early with an undisclosed injury, giving most of the first-team reps at right tackle to redshirt freshman Kenny Lacy. Starting right guard Alex Redmond has seen increasingly fewer contact reps with his left hand still wrapped in a cast; early enrollee NaJee Toran looks like the clear No. 2 behind him.

Guard John Lopez was also absent from practice, forcing even more juggling through the unit.

“It’s hard, and they’re going to make mistakes,” offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone said. “But in the long run, it makes them understand how all five fit together.”

– Mazzone talked a bit about the development of redshirt freshman Asiantii Woulard, who will most likely claim the backup quarterback spot over Jerry Neuheisel by the start of the season. Neuheisel actually looks much more composed and mistake-free than he did even nine months ago, but Woulard’s upside is so much higher. Continue reading

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Running back Craig Lee improving pass blocking after redshirt season

Last season was the first since 2009 that a UCLA running back didn’t clear 600 yards on the season.

There are a few caveats: Jordon James injured his ankle after collecting 424 through three games, and quarterback Brett Hundley finished with a team-high 748 and 11 touchdowns. Still, the Bruins want someone to spell Hundley in the backfield more capably and keep him from the sort of abuse he’s taken over the last two years (88 sacks).

The answer may be Craig Lee. Continue reading

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Spring notes: UCLA offensive line plays round of ‘musical chairs’


– UCLA juggled its offensive line significantly for the first time this spring, with two starters sitting out with minor injuries. Right guard Alex Redmond has been semi-limited the entire month with a cast over his left hand, while left tackle Caleb Benenoch hyperextended his knee early Monday night.

That meant Malcolm Bunche got most of the first-team reps at right tackle, his first time moving away from left guard this spring. The graduate transfer from Miami actually warmed up there early Monday evening before Benenoch was injured, with Scott Quessenberry taking his place at left guard. Head coach Jim Mora had been insistent that Bunche would stay at guard, but at around 6-foot-7, 330 pounds, the Bruins are probably going to at least try him outside some more before the season opener.

“He blocks out the sun,” said linebacker Myles Jack. Continue reading

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VIDEO: Safety Anthony Jefferson prepares for his final season


Safety Anthony Jefferson talked about this year’s UCLA secondary, as well as his status as the group’s elder statesman.

“I’m an old guy now, man,” he said. “It’s my last year. My job is to make sure these guys are all up to speed, making sure their heads are were it needs to be.”

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